Abdulaziz Yari, chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), has warned incoming governors to be prepared for another cycle of recession.
Speaking at the opening the ceremony of an induction programme for newly-elected and returning governors in Abuja, Yari who is the governor of Zamfara, said there is a possibility of a recession by the mid-2020 till third quarter of 2021.
In August 2016, Nigeria entered its first recession in more than two decades.
The gross domestic product had contracted by 3.06 per cent in the first quarter and shrunk by 0.36 per cent in the second quarter.
Yari said the outgoing governors have agreed that borrowing is not a good means of solving economic problems.
He urged the incoming governors to multiply revenue generation base so as to “change the course of doing government business for the betterment of the people”.
The NGF chair told the governors and incoming ones that it will not be smooth ride as they begin a new administration.
“On our part, we made a lot of achievements in infrastructural development and provision of social services because we enjoyed a relatively high oil price of about $100 to $114 per barrel between 2001 and the middle of 2014,” he said.
“However, by the mid-2014, the price of crude oil, which is sadly the main driving force of government’s expenditure, dropped to $75 per barrel. It, therefore, became very difficult for many states to even pay salaries of their workers.
“This scenario is a wake-up call for all of you to come amply prepared to face these kinds of challenges especially since we are expecting the possibility of another cycle of recession by mid-2020 and which may last up to third quarter of 2021.
“Your good spirit of stewardship will make you contain the situation should there be one. Also, as members of the National Economic Council, you must work hand in hand to boost the economy in tandem with the global best practices.
“Experience, they say, is the best teacher. Ours has been a challenging experience of managing state economies that are totally dependency on accruals from the federation account rather than exploring viable alternatives to run the economy.
“For most of the states, internally generated revenue (IGR) are nothing to write home about. You must, therefore, look inward by boosting your revenue generation base and also utilize them effectively for execution of projects that would touch the lives of your people. You must not forget the high expectations of our people on us; now that the democracy is maturing day in day out the challenges of governance and service delivery are more demanding.”
He also urged the incoming governors to strengthen tax laws and encourage Nigerians to pay their taxes.
“It is unfortunate that our people have a very negative attitude to payment of taxes in full, including corporate agencies,” he said.
“My take on this is that, as a country with over 200 million people, our individual and collective contributions in ensuring prompt payment of taxes can help the government achieve all its objectives. For us to achieve these responsibilities, we have to strengthen our tax laws and to make them very effective in our task of building a better Nigeria.
“If the necessary measures are put in place to provide a working system, I am certain that at the end of the day, we are going to succeed in tackling unemployment, reducing poverty, ensuring food security and disease control as well as building a nation with a robust economy.”
In his remarks, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo reminded the returning and incoming governors that the nation still battles poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, out-of-school children etc.
He challenged states to to boost their IGR and value added tax (VAT) in respective states in order to address the numerous issues.
He also said the national executive council would begin to look at more ways to effectively fund security in the country.